Tuesday 3 January 2023

Australia Calling

I know, I know. Tasmania is part of Australia and I’ve already written about that. But it seems like another country, just as the State of South Australia that I visited seems a different country from West Australia its neighbour to the west and Victoria to the east. I think these state are more like England, Scotland and Wales in this respect rather than, perhaps, the counties of the UK.

Our son greeted us at the airport together with his two kids who were squirming with ... with what? Excitement, embarrassment, shyness? Who knows? After all they hardly know us plus they are just five and six years old. Then we took a taxi and my son took them home, no room in his car because of the child seats regulations!

This was a return for us – and a goodbye. They rent an ugly but quite spacious bungalow in North Brighton, Adelaide but had just bought one of their own in the same area – so we now know that Australia is their permanent home. Most of Adelaide’s housing consists of bungalows and on a previous trip I regarded them as little more than sheds: this time, because of their purchase perhaps, I realised they are often quite characterful and certainly varied. Meanwhile there is a trend there towards demolishing the bungalows and constructing two storey and/or multiple homes.

For me the most welcome, the most startling, and the most interesting aspect of the country is the birds: so colourful, so splendid, so musical yet also cacophonic, and so proximate. For colour my favourite is the Rainbow Lorikeet – so beautiful, so noisy. For musicality it’s the Australian Magpie, so lyrical, so black and white. But of course I love the mammals too, though there were not so many wild sightings this visit (we did visit the excellent Adelaide Zoo guided by our grandchildren).

My three week stay consisted primarily of working on my son’s new home: fencing in his dysfunctional swimming pool (a legal necessity there), repairing a collapsing garage, some rewiring and so forth. However, I was allowed a holiday of three days; so we hired a car and travelled north towards the York Peninsula through bleak flatlands mostly consisting of natural low scrub, vast wheat fields, or enormous sheep enclosures. The roads were mostly straight, lonely and well-made though we also traversed long miles of unsealed roads at ten miles per hour or less. On the latter we met a kangaroo and experienced a limited, but enthralling, degree of interaction.

Star location of the trip was Moonta, an ‘ancient’ town owing its existence to copper mining and imported Cornish labour (the pasties were good). We resided in a hotel that served no food and dined in a motel that had no beds! We also enjoyed the local museum which brilliantly told the story of this now defunct mining area from all aspects: community, technology and workforce and so on. We also visited a seaside town called Port Broughton and a wine town in the Clare valley.

Of course I much prefer beer to wine and, on this trip, evolved a technique for obtaining beer which was not ‘teeth shatteringly cold’. What I did was this: I ordered bottled from the store at room temperature and mixed them with the near zero stuff from he tap to attain the perfect cellar temperature of approximately twelve degrees centigrade – much to the astonishment and puzzlement of both drinkers and bar staff.

 Christmas was very different to my norm. First of all the sun was shining and it was hot. I went for a run as ever in the morning and found nearby Brighton beach buzzing with swimmers, sun bathers, dog walkers, kayakers, surfboarders and so forth. The water looked so blue, so inviting, so tempting that I stripped to my shorts and underpants and plunged in. Cold, but refreshing, I truly enjoyed that swim, my first on a Christmas day so it really had to be done. I then dripped, towel-less back to the Ilfracombe Avenue bungalow for present giving and a spiced beef Christmas lunch.

In the afternoon, guess what we did? Yes, the whole family went down to the beach dragging a tent, in which Margaret sheltered from the wind-blown sand, an inflatable paddle board and all the paraphernalia apparently necessary for a family beach visit. And there I was again; swimming on Christmas day plus playing ball and drinking beer, not at the same time of course, on a glorious sun-baked beach in the antipodes.

On Boxing Day there is a tradition within our family to take a long walk, so, even though the heat was omnipresent, my son and I did just that. We followed a trail up to some waterfalls located in a national park on the eastern outskirts of Adelaide and found, just like us, they were dry. However, we met an emu, which was nice.

It was not all building work and play though. I did some interesting research into a famous man who headed a ground-breaking medical team in Oxford and was born and educated in Adelaide. Watch this space for the forthcoming video.


No comments:

Post a Comment

All feedback welcomed. Feel free.